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Madison Schools Report Two Coronavirus Cases with Zero Close Contacts

Here’s a puzzler: the Madison Central School District alerted families on Thursday of two cases of coronavirus in the schools, one in the elementary, one in the middle school. The district does not indicate whether the cases were students or staff. Yet according to the Madison Daily Leader, “health officials determined that no close contacts existed from either case.”

Madison Central follows the CDC definition of close contact as “being within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes.” I still have some issues with this definition: fifteen people may spread out in a classroom to sit 6.5 feet away from each other for an hour, but if they’re all in the same closed-in space for an hour, they’re breathing a lot of each other’s air and potentially a higher viral load.

I thus have to wonder how teachers and students can conduct normal classes in normal classrooms without experiencing any close contact. Good teaching almost by definition involves close contact. If kids have spent a week in the building with teachers and had close contact with no one, there’s a strong chance that no good teaching took place.

Either that, or both of the reported Madison school cases struck night janitors who never sweep within 20 feet of anybody else.


  1. Mark Anderson 2020-12-05 13:12

    I’m sure Maggie Seidel can find something to lie about here.

  2. mike livingston 2020-12-05 15:27

    I wonder if these health officials are with the same group of scoundrels that have magically been absconding with all those missing ballots I’m sure Rudy will be on the case.

  3. jerry 2020-12-05 18:06

    South Dakota’s covid numbers continue to rise. The deaths are terrible but let’s not forget nearly 100,000 of our fellow citizens sick now with health issues that will be with them for as long as they live.

    “The state reported 906 new infections Saturday on 1,857 people tested. That brings South Dakota’s total to 85,304 with 16,202 active infections – an increase of 277 from Friday.” Rapid City Journal 12.5.20

  4. Joe 2020-12-05 18:55

    From the NYT’s Frank Bruni today: “Death Came for the Dakotas”

    Response from NYT reader James (there are lots of thoughtful responses):

    “Covid-19 has destroyed the narrative that western states like the Dakotas who pride themselves on “straight shooters” who “tell it like it is” would pass a serious, real-world test.

    A virus is a biological event, indifferent to political identity issues. The cabal of GOP liars who downplayed the threat and framed the issue as one of “personal liberty” was transparently ingenuous. And yet, a cult-like mentality caused tens of thousands of people to fall for it hook, line, and sinker, even as their loved ones died or fell seriously ill.

    As much as we want there to be a better, kinder explanation, the truth remains people hear what they want to hear. And science doesn’t care whether you believe in it or not. The merging of the two can have terrible consequences.

    An interesting side note is that the Dakotas are home to some of the most adept scientific minds I’ve ever met. Agricultural work has a lot of cutting edge technology at the forefront of improved harvests—and the farmers and workers who leverage these advances are far from stupid. Quite the opposite.

    Maybe the sad conclusion is simply these states ended up on the losing side of a culture war. Abandoning conservative identity to help their fellow citizens was just too painful a sacrifice. A failure of GOP leadership? Yes. But also an abdication of personal responsibility toward one’s neighbor.”

  5. mike livingston 2020-12-05 19:16

    Well said Joe.

  6. Jenny 2020-12-05 19:16

    Mayo clinic made the difficult decision to shut down some of its SW MN clinics for six weeks so the nurses and doctors there can relieve some of its front line workers at the Mayo hospitals in Rochester.
    This is bad, folks.

  7. Jenny 2020-12-05 19:37

    When was the last time Noem gave an update to her fellow South Dakotans on COVID? Gov Walz has them every other day at least. He keeps us up to date on everything. We’re grateful for his honesty and compassion during this pandemic. He made the right decision to activate the National Guard to help out. What has Noem been doing lately, tweeting about her favorite new thing, Parler?

  8. Jenny 2020-12-05 19:50

    Interesting article Joe, South Dakotans seem to not mind the ‘every Man for himself’ mindset during this pandemic, even when the covid numbers make their state look bad, real bad.

  9. mike livingston 2020-12-05 20:15

    Jenny my remarks about the health care officials was intended to call out the journalist for not including the name of the organization, I can see in hindsight that I could have stated the facts more delicately, I rank health-care providers to be among the Saints.

  10. o 2020-12-05 21:56

    Joe: “But also an abdication of personal responsibility toward one’s neighbor.”

    That has become my largest criticism of the GOP. From the libertarian Rand “slave” paradigm to the newest Trump cult of personality, the GOP makes no bones that this is every-man-for-himself PERIOD. Add in a little prosperity gospel, and now even god (small ‘g”) himself is on the side of rewarding the “winners” (aka most selfish).

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-12-06 09:06

    A state that can’t even properly protect its schools, students and teachers and their families, deserves to lose the culture war.

  12. mike from iowa 2020-12-06 11:10

    I don’t get the idea people should be freer to get needle pokes or not, but, those of us who prefer not to get shot by gun humpers have no say.

    One needle poke might very well save a life where one massive bullet poke is likely apt to take a life..

  13. mike from iowa 2020-12-06 11:44

    I find this interesting….. As of 10 a.m. Sunday, the Iowa DPH reported 17 additional COVID-19 deaths for a statewide death toll of 2,682.

    The website said 1,363 of the state’s deaths involved Iowans with preexisting conditions. (from WCCO Des Moines)

    For wingnuts who claim actual covid deaths from covid alone is less than 1% of the total.

    iowa reportrd nearly 1900 more cases overnight with 17 more deaths.

  14. kj trailer trash 2020-12-06 12:16

    But, Jenny, Noem is doing some very important communicating. She has bragged on FB about the wonderful fact that 3 SD rodeos “ran the table” for awards, at the Arlington, TX rodeo finals, for something, not sure what, most popular rodeos this year or something. What’s even dumber about it is that so many rodeos and so many high-profile rodeos (Cheyenne and Houston among them) were cancelled due to Covid this year. The Vikings might win a Super Bowl too if they had no competition. She’s also brought out the tired old Reagan badmouthing of “we’re from the government and we’re here to help” BS against Biden, pooped out the old lies about science saying masks don’t work, and for all I know used her position to have her grandma’s death declared non-covid, what else? Nothing worthwhile, that’s for sure.

  15. mike from iowa 2020-12-06 12:58

    ICYI, KJ, The role of rodeo in the state was highlighted this week by the PRCA and NFR recognizing three South Dakota rodeos as the tops in 2020.

    Deadwood’s “Days of ‘76” rodeo was given the “Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year” by the PRCA, making it the first rode to win the small, medium and large in that category.

    The Black Hills Roundup at Belle Fourche was named the Medium Outdoor Rodeo of the Year and Rodeo Rapid City was named winner of the Large Indoor Rodeo of the Year Award.”

    The trifecta for South Dakota rodeos apparently was aided by not having as many events closed down during the year of the pandemic as some other states, similarly to the decision that Las Vegas made to not allow the NFR there this year.

  16. mike from iowa 2020-12-06 17:12

    Screwdy Rudy has covid and I am sure it is from parking his lips in close proximity with drumpf’s orange afterdeck.

  17. Dave 2020-12-07 00:36

    Could be about like Montrose School District is doing now… If a student is wearing a mask, regardless if the positive person is wearing a mask or not (no mandatory masks), they will not be reported to the DOH as a close contact. To clarify, if a student has signed a mask contract (agrees to wear a mask all day), they will never be considered a close contact. Even in PE where masks aren’t required (all packed into a weight room breathing heavy with no masks), if you signed that contract you’re not a close contact.

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-12-07 06:07

    Schools deeming no close contact due to mask-wearing, never mind a mask contract, are ignoring CDC guidelines:

    Individual who has had close contact (within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more)

    Exposure to

    • Person with COVID-19 who has symptoms (in the period from 2 days before symptom onset until they meet criteria for discontinuing home isolation; can be laboratory-confirmed or a clinically compatible illness)
    • Person who has tested positive for COVID-19 (laboratory confirmed) but has not had any symptoms (in the 2 days before the date of specimen collection until they meet criteria for discontinuing home isolation).

    Note: This is irrespective of whether the person with COVID-19 or the contact was wearing a mask or whether the contact was wearing respiratory personal protective equipment (PPE)

    [CDC, Public Health Guidance for Community-Related Exposure,” updated 2020.12.03

  19. Dave 2020-12-07 14:14

    I completely understand the CDC Guidelines. I just wonder how we’ve gotten to the point that the schools get to decide who close contacts are and tell the DOH, vs the DOH properly tracing close contacts and informing the school.

  20. mike from iowa 2020-12-08 18:49

    drumpf/noem body count ended at 290,425 last evening and ….

    United States
    Coronavirus Cases:

    Looks like nearly 3k deaths today alone.

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